Paris? Oui Oui!

 paris is always a good idea - audrey hepburn quote - at the beach with kris

I’m the luckiest girl – my mom surprised us (me, my sister and sister-in-law) over Easter with these cute JCrew shirts…

jcrew tshirt oh la la - at the beach with kris

And the news that we are taking a girls trip to Paris in September!  We’ve rented a darling apartment right in the heart of it all.  And who isn’t inspired by everything French?  Here are some photos of our quaint little Parisian flat – our pied-a-terre for the week…

paris kitchen - at the beach with kris

paris kitchen -  at the beach with kris

 paris kitchen - at the beach with kris

 paris at the beach with kris 8

paris bedroom - at the beach with kris

paris bedroom - at the beach with kris

paris at the beach with kris 16

paris at the beach with kris 15

paris at the beach with kris 4

 paris at the beach with kris 5

     I’ve spent a lot of time googling Paris and have decided that I need to pack as lightly as humanly possible so I can bring back a purse, a pair of shoes, some perfume and some art – plus Christmas presents!  I will try to find some cute pants with an elastic waist band so I can eat crepes every single day.  I saw they have food trucks in Paris that serve crepes all day, all night.  Speaking of clothes – apparently Parisian women would NEVER be caught in public in their yoga pants!  Shut the front door!!!  I guess these women are way too chic and dress nicely AND in high heels for pretty much all occasions.   Good thing I have a few months to prepare!  This is how I picture myself looking in Paris….

french women dress like this - at the beach with kris


beach photo of the paris girls - at the beach with kris

And then there is reality – my sisters have a better chance of looking like that than I do – this is us in a beach selfie over Easter.  They can’t be too mad that I posted this considering they look adorable and me…not so much!


If you’ve been to Paris and have some favorites you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!


Click here to be a subscriber and never miss a post!

Merry Christmas!


merry christmas 2013

Merry Christmas!  2 professional photo shoots and I still didn’t have a card.  What’s a girl to do – especially one like me who usually has her Christmas card photo locked down by July?  (Man plans, God laughs)  We got a real tree this year – the first time ever – and we took an impromptu picture at the beach with the kids and the tree strapped to the roof.  I made the card myself and had it printed in a metallic finish from Nations Photo Lab (first time ordering and I loved the quality!)

Florida has been very warm, unlike most of the rest of the country.  Sister sent me this from North Dakota…

national I hate florida day

Today was 75…just saying!

Last weekend we took a fun weekend trip with 4 other couples to New Orleans.  If you ever book a trip to Nola, make sure its not the weekend of a Saints game and go to dinner ridiculously early.  We made a few jokes about a senior discount, but it turned out to be a great call because we avoided most of the debauchery you’ll see should you venture out later.  It was a great weekend and the French Quarter was decked out in her Christmas best…

new orleans

new orleans lights 1

new orleans tree

3 cities

new orleans nativity

I bought this nativity set in New Orleans to add to my collection…

We got back from Nola just in time for a neighborhood progressive dinner party.  The dessert house was gorgeous and decorated impeccably, and they had brick floors.  I want.  Every single time I try to get brick floors, the flooring store talks me out of it.  #never again

brick floors

Today I was in charge of serving breakfast foods to 140 fourth graders at son’s school on pajama day.  What a bunch of cutie patooties!  Then a Christmas lunch with my mom and some friends.  I tried to be festive, sporting my furry vest that is on a fine line between super cute and super ugly… but its 75 degrees out –  and on a side note the weeds are about to take over my yard…in December…

fur vest

I’m hosting around 40 friends and family for Christmas Eve.  #crayiknow  I will likely be decorating up until the minute my guests arrive.  I think the late Thanksgiving threw me for a loop.  Here are a few Instagrams of the house so far…

wreath and new doors 2

I have been knee deep in re-decorating since July.  I ordered new interior doors and these crystal knobs from Emtek that are sooo pretty and feel so good in hand.  Its the details!  I had my eye on this Smith & Hawken wreath at Target and yesterday it was already marked down 50%.  #mine


We are enjoying the real tree after my quest for a faux flocked tree didn’t pan out.  Next year for sure…

sled 1

I bought two sleds at antique shops years ago – now I need an old pair of ice skates.  Perhaps ebay in July?  Some poinsettias would be nice too #aintnobodygottimeforpoinsettias

front door 2

Sled #2 – such cute photo ops on the beach when the kids were wee… 

front door

This is a real wreath decked out with a lighted burlap bow #yesitscrooked

paper whites

My paperwhites started to droop so I tied them with a red tulle bow.  I just read you need to feed them a bit of alcohol and it stunts their growth! #toolatethisyear

christmas chandelier

Stole this idea from a restaurant in town – so easy and so pretty at night!

Have your selfie a Merry Christmas!!!

new orleans selfie


Click here for more Christmas decorating ideas!

Click here for automatic blog updates right to your e-mail!


Halloween – The Archives


     I used to host a big, fun Halloween party the Saturday before Halloween each year.  I never was a big Halloween person – until Son was born.  My only request to my Dr. during my pregnancy was “please don’t let him be born on Halloween!”  Now I think that would have been cool.  But…he made his entrance a few days before and we ended up having a Halloween/birthday party combo 6 years running.  I think  my favorite Halloween party was the last one 3 years ago – it was an 80’s themed party and kids and adults all came dressed in 80’s costumes.  We had several Madonnas, a rubik’s cube, the Golden Girls, Punky Brewster, Mr. T, etc..  I will always cherish those photos and memories!  After that party I scaled back to a small party on Halloween – some of our friends come over and we eat chili and a few appetizers and then we all drive golf carts around the neighborhood trick-or-treating.

     Here are a few photos I dug up from the archives to share with you through the years of Halloween (last year pictured above was “Toddlers and Tiaras and a Bears football player.)  As I type this, Daughter (at 10 years old) is now pretty much my same height and has a shoe size 2 sizes larger than my own.  Son is not far behind in the height department and we could share shoes but he doesn’t really care for wedges or Ugg boots!  Daughter typed a letter to me outlining all the reasons she should have a phone – I’ll have to scan and share that later, it would win anyone over.  The point is…they are growing up way too fast and pretty soon they will be too old for trick-or-treating!  (Some faces have been blacked out to protect the innocent!)

Son won the Costume Contest at the 80’s party with his Gene Simmons KISS costume!

And I’m not saying this is or isn’t husband, but this crew also won the Costume Contest as Richard Simmons and the Sweatin’ to the Oldies “ladies.”  I pee a little every time I see this photo:

These Solid Gold dancers at the 80’s party still kill me.  I couldn’t black out his lips in this photo because really – that makes the photo:


This was all of us last year by the golf cart.  Husband went all out with his costume…I think he called it “deer in the headlights”

This Chuckie was pretty funny – we found him/her at a house where we trick-or-treated.  They had the dad jumping out of the bushes to really freak you out and they had fake bloody limbs on the stairs up to their house.

This is really going back in the archives to the pumpkin patch days:

People who have never seen me pregnant don’t believe that I get as big as I got.  No, this is not twins or octuplets.  This was taken about a month before Son was born…back in the days with a digital camera that had 2 megapixels and before lasik eye surgery:

Isn’t she the cutest thing?  This child never had hair until she was about 3 years old.  It all fell out and grew back to the thickest hair you’ve ever seen – see what happens when you wish too hard?  I said I wanted enough hair for a bow – not enough that her hairdresser said he will start charging her by the pound!  There is nothing cuter than baby feet…nothing…

This was when my little pumpkin turned 1 – still getting the hang of how to walk, I guess:

This was Daughter trying on brother’s costume:

I could eat them with a spoon:

This was the year Johnny the Torch actually started a tree on fire with a sparkler:


I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane!




First Communion & Cinco de Mayo

     These two occassions seem an unlikley pair – but this year they fell on the same day…May 5th!  Son, a second grader, made his First Holy Communion on Saturday night and we had a dinner/pool party after for our family and some of his friends’ families.  It was fun to see Son all dressed up – for a boy who considers jeans TOO DRESSY for formal night on the Cruise, it was nice to see him in a shirt and tie instead of basketball shorts and sports team t-shirts.  In our church, First Holy Communion is a very special time – it would bring tears to any mother’s eye. 

     Two years ago when Daughter made her First Communion, I hired a professional photographer who did a full shoot of her in her dress and veil and she created custom invitiations for the dinner after.  For Son, I quickly rushed him to the back yard and snapped the world’s fastest photo and then found an invitation online that could ship quickly.  Lucky for me, the picture turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself:

 And here are a few photos from the Service:

     After the Mass, the Church had a reception for all – two HUGE cakes with each of the communicant’s names on it (they each got the piece with their name) and lemonade.  After that we went back home for a Cinco de Mayo themed dinner party and the kids all swam like fish in the pool all night.  Here are some party details and recipes:

Sources:  Paper Flowers, Tissue banners and salsa bowls here, tablecloths from Walmart, large beach towels from Target, Tissue Pom Poms from Party City and all ribbon and tulle from Hobby Lobby.


Dinner was a taco bar with beef or chicken and all the fixings.  Instead of plates, I used these foil to-go containers that I bought at the Dollar Store.  If you plan ahead, you can buy these much cheaper at an on-line restaurant supply company.  The downside is you have to buy 200, but only $20!  Everyone loved eating from these and it was less mess with the tacos.


I served individual layer dips and displayed them on top of a sombrero.
I made these the night before and trust me, they were delish.


The dessert bar – yum!  I served lemon cupcakes (on a sombrero), brownies, strawberry pound cake trifle, chocolate chip cookies and sopapilla cheesecake (not pictured.)  The recipe for the amazing trifle is at the end of this post – super easy and you can make the day before!


Water bottle labels and food label table tents from Etsy – awesome, last minute service!


Every single Coronoa was consumed…when in Rome Mexico! 


Make-ahead Mason Jar Margaritas.  I love anything in a mason jar so when I found this reicpe on Pinterest, I had to try it – muy bien!  
See the full recipe below. 


Last but not least – I bought some stick-on mustaches at Party City and hot glued them onto skewers and put them at the head table along with some sombreros – people could then pose for pictures using the mustache and hats – made for some funny pics of our friends!



 Strawberry Pound Cake Trifle

– 1 Sara Lee Pound Cake, thawed (this dense cake works best for this recipe so it doesn’t get mushy)
– 2 or 3 pints of fresh strawberries – sliced and tossed with 1/2 Cup sugar
– 1 1/2 Cup sugar (1/2 cup used above)
– 2 eight oz packages of cream cheese, softened
– 3 cups whole whipping cream, whipped to make 4 cups

1.  Slice the pound cake into 1 inch cubes.

2.  Beat the cream cheese and 1 C of sugar until smooth.  Then add then whipped cream and mix lightly.

3.  Start the first layer of your trifle with pound cake and place along the bottom of your trifle bowl.

4.  Layer the pound cake with the juicy, sliced strawberries.

5. Top the strawberries with a thick amount of the whipped cream mixture.

6.  Repeat layers one more time until top layer is whipped cream.

7.  Garnish with a whole strawberry or even white or dark chocolate shavings.

*You could also add blueberries and make this dessert look patriotic for Memorial Day or 4th of July! 

*This recipe can be made the day before – this will give the pound cake time to absorb the strawberry juices.

Make Ahead Mason Jar Margaritas
I made 3 batches of these margaritas which filled 24  1/2 pint mason jars.  Save your packaging and freeze the jars in it to save freezer space.

– one 12oz can frozen limeade
– 1 C Tequila
– 1/3 C Triple Sec
– juice of 2 limes
– 4-5 cups of ice

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the ice and blend.  Then fill the blender to the top with ice and blendy until slushy.  You do not want any big ice chunks.  Pour into 1/2 pint mason jars and screw the lids on tightly.  Freeze until ready to serve.  The margaritas will thaw to a slushy consistency in about 5-10 minutes.  Do not put them immediately into an icy cooler like I did – the ice will stick the the mason jars and is hard to remove.  I would recommend putting them into a cooler or drink bin without ice until they have thawed. 

Next up – Daughter’s dance recital and her birthday party.  Then I am taking a nap.  A really, really long nap.



The Days Are So Long, The Years So Short

     Busy.  Busy.  Busy.  That about sums up my life these days.  The kids either have a practice, game or tournament every day of the week.  Today I thought was our first day off in 15 days and then daughter’s team called a practice and son’s coach signed him up for a hitting camp.  Rewind to February.  I am sitting in the cold rain at son’s first travel ball tournament.  It was miserable and I confess I complained all morning that the tournament wasn’t canceled – bad weather was looming – and I just knew we’d get all the way there and it would get rained out.  But it didn’t.  As I’m sitting on the bleachers – cold  and wet – my phone rings with a real estate related call.  Another agent wanting an appointment to show one of my listings.  I told her I was sitting outside in the rain at son’s baseball tournament and she got real excited and said “Honey you are SO LUCKY.  I would give ANYTHING to have those days back with my children.  Now they are grown up and moved away.”  Wow.  It took that one silly phone call to give me some perspective.  Enjoy life while you are living it.  Pretty soon these kids are not going to need me or even want me to be around.  They aren’t going to snuggle at night or give me kisses goodbye at school.  I won’t have any rainy travel ball tournaments to go to and cheer on my kids.  Cherish the moment – in the moment.

     Brother, sister-in-law and their 3 little nuggets came to visit for a week during Easter.  We had glorious weather.  But my kids had that pesky thing called school.  We soaked in as much time as we could with the cousins and cried lots of tears when they left.  Daughter actually locked herself in her bathroom when we were saying good-byes.  She was crying so hard that sister-in-law had to knock on the door holding the “Bug” coaxing her out for a hug and a goodbye.   I wish we lived closer.  Actually, I wished THEY lived closer because I don’t do snow.  Here is a picture I snapped of the Bug on the beach in her cute little Janie N Jack swimsuit ensemble.  She is the cutest, smartest 2 year old I have ever met – we have holes the size of Texas in our hearts when they leave.

     We got the new swingset installed!  Its pretty great.  I told the builder I wanted it sized for my tall kids.  Well, he took me to my word and it was so tall that Husband actually had him lop off 3 feet.  Can you imagine this 3 feet taller?  We had to go buy extra chain so the kids wouldn’t need ladders to get on the swings.  Some day if I ever have some free time I need to stain or seal it.  The posts were dug 3 feet deep in the ground – would have gone deeper but we hit water.  Darn sea level.  The swings and hardware are all from Home Depot…the swings can support up to 350 pounds.  Before extra chain:

And the “after”:


 Things are moving slower than I’d like at the Beach House.  Just like everything there, the walls are schitzophrenic.   Some have beachy wood paneling (not your Grandma’s 1970’s paneling) and some have an almost stucco finish.  So we decided to panel all the walls in the living room and kitchen.  Well, one batch of wood was bad and had to be re-ordered, bringing the work to a halt.  My contractor said the Kitchen might arrive this week – that would be great news.  We are getting close.  Picture it painted the perfect shade of white.

     Yesterday I stopped by Home Depot to pick up some flowers and herbs to plant.  Son is making his First Communion on May 5, so we are having our family and a few of his friends over for dinner after.  Well turns out that day is also Cinco de Mayo so the party is going to be just that.  Mexican food, mojitos, sangria and some fun decorations I ordered from Etsy and an authentic Mexican Fiesta store!  I am planting my own basil and mint, using Miracle Gro soil and fingers crossed it will grow enough to use in time for the party.  Herbs grow so well in pots by my pool – it has a screen so they are protected from bugs and creatures.  The herbs must love humidity because they grow the size of a small tree by July.  I also bought some new cobalt blue pots at WalMart – less than $30 for the largest size.  They look JUST like pottery and then you touch it and its lightweight plastic.  I carried them to my car and I got more than a few stares of wow, that girl is STRONG to be carrying those huge pots to her car. 

And some photos of my Cinco de Mayo Party inspiration, from my Pinterest Parties board:       

 The sangria filled with chopped up fresh fruit like strawberries and apples and yes, basil from my garden.  Grow basil, grow!

I know a margarita would be more fitting, but my fav drink is a mojito.  For the two times a year I actually drink!  I am trying this recipe from the Food Network because it makes an entire pitcher and it gets great reviews.  Grow mint, grow!


Don’t forget to subcribe to my blog and receive e-mails with new posts!


A “constant state of relaxation” in the Bahamas

     We took the kids (and 34 of our closest friend came too!) on a cruise to the Bahamas for spring break!  Yes, we are living the life of Riley over here.   Back when I was a kid, we got 2 days off for spring break – we prayed it wouldn’t blizzard – and we drove to the state high school hockey tournaments for the weekend.  Pretty much the same thing, right?  Yep, the kids are spoiled.  But jeez – 2nd and 4th grade are NO joke.  Their homework rivals a lot of what I did in high school.  4th grade math scares me.  I am NOT smarter than a 5th grader –  at least not a 2012 5th grader!  So the kids really deserved a break.  And I deserved a break.  Nothing like all-you-can-eat food 24 hours a day for 5 days – I just wanted a break from packing lunches and cooking dinner.  I mean really…do these kids need to eat 3 times a day EVERY day?  We returned home with the kids in full detox of 24-hour “free” ice cream.  And don’t get me started on the warm chocolate melting cake.  That alone is worth the price of the cruise.

     We stopped in 2 ports – Freeport and Nassau.  When you live somewhere as beautiful as I do – who really needs to take a vacation?  The Bahamas is beautiful, but their beaches were not as pretty as ours.  We are spoiled by our sugar white sand and emerald green Gulf waters.  We were in Nassau for a full 24 hours – so it was nice to not have to feel pressured to get back to the boat – I have an irrational fear of being stranded in a port waving goodbye to my ship.  We did all the usual tourist things – we bought rum cakes, drank rum drinks, sent the kids on a banana boat ride, snorkeled (those brave enough to enter that cold water) and relaxed on the beach (with above mentioned rum drinks.)

     In Nassau we saw this yacht.  Pretty nice.  We guessed it belongs to Michael Jordan, based on the “air” written on the side.  Notice the helicopter and pad at the rear of the ship.  (Our friends who went snorkeling said their boat captain pointed out mansions saying they belonged to Oprah, Tiger, MJ, etc…)


     I don’t think I would enjoy a cruise as much with just with our little family – definitely more fun with a group.  And if your group is 38 people – well, the more the merrier!  Everyone got along great and all of the kids rated our trip a 10 and asked to book again for next year!  If you asked my kids the highlight of their trip, they would most likely tell you the “towel animals”.  If you haven’t cruised before – your porter makes a towel animal each night when they turn down your bed and the kids get SO excited to see what animal is waiting. 

     All six of us girls/moms got massages one night on the ship.  Our attendants told us to “remain in a constant state of relaxation”.  Pretty funny/ironic thing to say to a mom, right?  Ah ma’am, can you please tell our husbands about this constant state of relaxation?  And of course tell the kids too. Yes, definitely tell the kids.

Two of my favorite/funny cruise memories:

1.  If you’ve been on a cruise you know they have a staff of photogs trying to take some cheesy backdrop photos of you to later sell you a 4×6 for 20 bucks.  One night at dinner, I let daughter go to the bathroom with 2 of her friends. They returned without her. She came back and said “mom, everyone wants to take my photo!!!” Her 8 year old friend said in all seriousness “well she does have the face of a model.”   Note to self….praise daughter less for beauty and more for brains – and a refresher course on stranger danger.

2.  Daughter and her friends are forever putting on shows for us. It usually involves some bad dancing and confusion and even requests for money before these performances. Well daughter’s friend walked up to her mother during dinner to let her know the girls had a show ready and to please alert the Captain so he could make an announcement their show was after dinner!  Note to self…always remember your children’s innocence before it gets mucked up by the world.

     We got back home with enough time to suffer from the “sways” and attempt to do 18 loads of laundry and then pack again because son had a travel baseball tournament in Alabama the next day!  So back on the road we went.  And wouldn’t you know those boys kept winning and went all the way to the Championship game and ended up in 2nd place for the tournament!  We were shocked.  Not that our boys aren’t great – but sports are very serious in the South.  We play full-pads tackle football in Kindergarten. Some of these 8U travel balls teams have kids from 3 states – only the best of the best. I would say most of our boys are average to above-average in size…. UNTIL you compare them to these other teams.  I would like to find these kids wandering around the concession stand and ask them how old they are.  There is almost no way they are 7 or 8 years old!  These kids practically have facial hair and look like they are in middle school.  So 2nd place was great – better than great!  I almost felt bad sending my kids back to school Monday morning after not getting back until late Sunday night.  Son played catcher for almost 5 games this weekend – I can’t imagine how sore his little legs were after being in catcher position for so long.  I would need a wheelchair for at least a week.  My husband mentioned to his real estate coach something about the tournament and his coach said ” the thing about kids this age – the only thing they care about is parental recognition and a snack.”  Point taken.

     Can my little ball player be any cuter?  He is a sweet chunk of boy…I want to eat his dimples with a spoon.  He is an old soul, smart as a whip, fiercely competitive, a perfectionist in many ways (except when it comes to keeping his white basbeall pants clean)…and he is the sweetest, most loving boy a mom could ask for.  He falls asleep at night after telling me I’m the best mom in the world.  I tell him he’s the best son in the world and he says “NO, you are the best momma”.  Swoon…

Now lets get back back to that state of constant relaxation… I highly recommend it…